Youth gangs of color in the United States have emerged in the context of larger structural forces. For example, Mexican American, black, and Vietnamese/Asian American youth gang formation in Southern California is tied to their respective racialized communities’ initial movements into the Los Angeles area (from Mexico and Vietnam, and for blacks, from the U.S. South). Structural forces such as political/social unrest and economic instability, both domestically and in their sending countries; the role of the U.S. military and economic apparatus; and (im)migration patterns and trends impact the particularities of youth gang subculture—including protection and self-preservation; ethnic pride and desire for family; having to navigate, resist, and rearticulate youth identities (in and outside the context of schooling); and the desire to garner money, power, and respect in a capitalist context. U.S. racism and state violence have also had an impact on youth gang formation. Anti-youth legislation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in particular, have helped shape the discourse on youth of color, criminality, “gangs,” space, and citizenship over the past three decades. Although such youth are typically on the margins or left out of educational institutions, a critical pedagogy provides a space for engagement and hope.
Ray Block Jr.
Simply defined, stereotypes are commonly-held beliefs about groups of people. Racial stereotypes are the widely shared perceptions that people have about certain social groups and the individuals who are members of those groups. To understand the large and growing literature on racial stereotypes, it is useful to organize this body of research by whether stereotypes are being explored as dependent variables or as independent variables. When the focus is on dependent variables, scholars investigate why racial stereotypes exist and how they work. Conversely, the work on stereotypes as independent variables emphasizes their influence on both attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. Special attention should also be paid to the stereotypes that are often applied to people who exist at the intersections of multiple racial, ethnic, gender, and sexuality groups (for example, those attributed female and non-binary persons of color).
Peter J. Pecora
The mission of child welfare is multifaceted and includes: (a) responding to the needs of children reported to public child-protection agencies as being abused, neglected, or at risk of child maltreatment; (b) providing children placed in out-of-home care with developmentally appropriate services; and (c) helping children find permanent homes in the least-restrictive living situations possible; and (d) providing “post-permanency” services to children so they do not return to foster care. This section describes the mission, scope, and selected issues of major child-welfare-program areas.
King Davis and Hyejin Jung
This entry defines the term disparity as measurable differences between groups on a number of indices. The term disparity originated in France in the 16th century and has been used as a barometer of progress in social justice and equality in the United States. When disparity is examined across the U.S. population over a longitudinal period, it is clear that disparities continue to exist and that they distinguish groups by race, income, class, and gender. African American and Native American populations have historically ranked higher in prevalence and incidence than other populations on most indices of disparity. However, the level of adverse health and social conditions has declined for all population groups in the United States. The disparity indices include mortality rates, poor health, disease, absence of health insurance, accidents, and poverty. Max Weber’s theory of community formation is used in this entry to explain the continued presence and distribution of disparities. Other theoretical frameworks are utilized to buttress the major hypothesis by Weber that social ills tend to result from structural faults rather than individual choice. Social workers are seen as being in a position to challenge the structural origins of disparities as part of their professional commitment to social justice.